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UN rights chief criticizes China for not arresting Sudan president

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] criticized China [AFP report] on Thursday for welcoming Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir [case materials; JURIST news archive] rather than arresting him to stand trial. Al-Bashir has been accused of crimes against humanity and genocide against Darfur [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] tribal groups. Upon news of a scheduled visit with President Hu Jintao [BBC profile], China came under pressure [JURIST report] from the international community to arrest al-Bashir but did not respond. The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website], which issued the arrest warrant, has no police or authority to enforce it without cooperation from governments. Pillay said she was disappointed with China's failure to arrest al-Bashir and that every nation has a duty and responsibility to bring justice to those indicted by the court. China has not commented on the visit, although al-Bashir reportedly met a "red carpet" reception on Wednesday.

China is not currently a party to the ICC's Rome Statute [text, PDF] and therefore has no obligation to the international community to arrest al-Bashir. China is, however, a permanent member of the UN Security Council [official website], which formally referred the Darfur case to Luis Moreno-Ocampo, lead prosecutor for the ICC. In joining the council, China agreed to cooperate with ICC decisions. The ICC charged al-Bashir [JURIST report] with three counts of genocide [warrant, PDF] in relation to the Darfur conflict, in addition to seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity that were filed against al-Bashir [JURIST report] in March 2009. The international community and human rights groups have urged various countries to arrest al-Bashir while he has been present inside their borders. Earlier this month, Amnesty International [advocacy website] called on Malaysia [JURIST report] to withdraw its invitation to al-Bashir and arrest him if he travels to the country. Similarly, the ICC urged Djibouti to arrest al-Bashir [JURIST report] in May. The ICC requested that Kenya arrest al-Bashir [JURIST report] during an October visit last year, his second visit to the country in the same year. Previously, al-Bashir had visited Kenya for the signing of the country's new constitution [JURIST report]. Following his visit, the ICC reported Kenya [decision, PDF; JURIST report] to the UN Security Council and the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute for the violation in not arresting al-Bashir.

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